Priti Patel wants to give Britain’s ‘FBI’ new powers to tackle Russian and Chinese spies in UK

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PRITI Patel wants to bring in new powers to tackle Russian and Chinese spies running amok in London.

The Home Secretary wishes to move responsibility for counter-espionage from the Met to the National Crime Agency.

Home Secretary Priti Patel wants to bring in new powers to tackle Russian and Chinese spies

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Home Secretary Priti Patel wants to bring in new powers to tackle Russian and Chinese spiesCredit: EPA

Britain’s “FBI”, formed in 2013, has long been eyed for a major expansion in powers.

It is the result of the NCA impressing multiple Home Secretaries with a string of high-profile successes.

It is feared that tens of thousands of spies and assets from hostile states are operating in the UK at any time.

The concern is that the Met are struggling to keep tabs on the growing underworld.

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Relations with Russia and China have soured in the wake of the 2018 Salisbury Novichok poisoning and the fall-out from Covid-19 — plus the rumpus about Huawei 5G technology.

The plan would likely cause a major row in law enforcement circles, but insiders insist it is at an “early stage”.

Fighting spying on Britain’s streets could also set the NCA on a collision course with MI5, the intelligence agency that traditionally handles domestic threats.

But a senior Home Office source said: “Anything that can make the system more efficient is welcomed by the Home Secretary.”

Foreign policy expert Dr Alan Mendoza said: “Chinese and Russian spies have been operating in the UK for years, yet our current confused approach to policing has failed to see a single operative successfully prosecuted.”

Relations with Russia have soured in the wake of the 2018 Salisbury Novichok poisoning

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Relations with Russia have soured in the wake of the 2018 Salisbury Novichok poisoningCredit: PA:Press Association/PA Images

The rumpus about Huawei 5G technology has strained relations with China

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The rumpus about Huawei 5G technology has strained relations with ChinaCredit: Reuters

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The head of the Henry Jackson Society think tank added: “The NCA has shown themselves up to the task of taking on international organised crime.

“Handing them control of counter-intelligence policing shows that the Government is beginning to understand the scale of interference from China and Russia.”

Last night the Home Office insisted that no formal decision had as yet been made.

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